Summer Street Capital Partners has acquired Tulsa Welding School, the nation’s largest accredited private welding school. No financial terms were disclosed, except that HSBC Capital and company management also provided equity for the transaction.
Private equity fund manager Summer Street Capital Partners LLC today announced the acquisition of Tulsa Welding School, the largest accredited private welding school in the United States, which trains students for welding and inspection careers in a multitude of welding specialties and applications.
This transaction is Summer Street’s first investment in the for-profit post-secondary career school industry. To lead the transaction with Tulsa Welding School, and Summer Street’s future partnerships in the industry, the firm formed a post-secondary career school investment team that includes experienced owners and operators who are committed to helping for-profit institutions advance their missions.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, though Summer Street uses its $300 million of managed capital to make equity investments that typically range from $5 million to $30 million in companies with annual revenues of $20 to $100 million. Within the for-profit post-secondary career school industry, Summer Street intends to focus on acquiring institutions with revenues in the range of $2 million to $50 million. Equity investors for the Tulsa Welding School transaction, in addition to Summer Street, include HSBC Capital (USA) Inc. and incoming management.
Tulsa Welding School, which has locations in Tulsa, Okla., and Jacksonville, Fla., offers affordable structural welder, master welder and welding technology programs to more than 800 students. Its graduates are taking advantage of the serious shortage of welders in the United States, estimated to exceed 200,000 skilled welders by 2010 according to the American Welding Society. The school’s student placement rate is 94 percent, with graduate starting salaries averaging in excess of $46,000. In addition to being accredited and licensed to operate schools in Florida and Oklahoma, Tulsa Welding School recruits in 12 additional states. The school’s training programs are three-and-a-half, seven or 14 months in duration.
“Tulsa Welding School is an established institution whose mission is to produce world-class welders and welding inspectors,” said Mike McQueeney, Summer Street managing partner and Post-Secondary Career School Investment Team lead. “Through our investment in this company, we will increase the business’s growth potential and enrollment numbers, improve facilities and machinery, grow the school’s staff and reinforce the institution’s nationally recognized brand name and marketability.”
Michael Harter and Roger Hess, who purchased Tulsa Welding School in 1991, have retired. Summer Street’s Post-Secondary Career School Investment Team members Larry Brown and Dawn Bravo will join Tulsa Welding School as chief executive officer and chief marketing officer, respectively.
Brown, who has more than 35 years of education experience, recently served as vice chairman, chief operating officer and president of Lincoln Educational Services Corporation, a $385 million for-profit publicly traded provider of career-oriented post-secondary education that educates 18,000 students and employs 2,700 individuals in 37 schools in 17 states.
Bravo, prior to joining Tulsa Welding School, served as divisional vice president of marketing and admissions for Career Education Corporation, a for-profit educational institution that provides education to 89,500 students at approximately 75 campuses located in the United States, France, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom. She also worked as a private consultant and held numerous leadership positions with companies such as Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Educational Services Corporation.
“Tulsa Welding School is a nationally recognized institution that has an impressive track record and sterling industry reputation,” said Brown. “We are excited that our investment in the school will increase its potential to strengthen its market position, expand and add campuses, grow through acquisition and continue its educational mission.”
“We are confident that by acquiring the leading educational institution for the welding industry, we have established a strong platform to expand our investment presence in the educational services market and positioned ourselves to impact the current trend of declining welding workers in the United States,” Brown said.
Summer Street will use its capital to add an additional 80 welding machines to the Tulsa and Jacksonville campuses. The company will also increase the current size of both properties, in particular adding approximately 7,000 sq. feet to the Tulsa facility.
ABOUT TULSA WELDING SCHOOL
Tulsa Welding School was founded in 1949 and has grown into the largest accredited private welding school in the United States. The school currently offers training for students pursuing jobs as professional welders at two locations in Tulsa, Okla. and Jacksonville, Fla. Both schools have been given accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and College of Technology. It is also a member of the American Welding Society and the Career College Association. Additional information about the company can be found at www.weldingschool.com.
ABOUT SUMMER STREET CAPITAL PARTNERS LLC
Summer Street Capital Partners LLC, founded in 1999, is a Buffalo, N.Y.-based private equity fund with approximately $300 million of committed capital focused on investing in small-market companies. The firm invests alongside talented managers, bringing capital and resources to support acquisitions and aggressive growth strategies. Summer Street’s investors include leading pension funds, insurance companies and banking institutions. Summer Street’s investments support management buy-outs, family transitions, corporate divestitures, growth financings and recapitalizations. The investment team is complimented by a team of experienced operating partners who are integrally involved in assisting portfolio companies. Visit www.summerstreetcapital.com for additional information.